Matilda J. "Tillie" Smithers

matilda  smithers
Matilda ‘Tillie’ James Smithers was born on March 26, 1930 to Matilda McLeod Robinson and E. Ralph James of Hampton, VA. Tillie graduated from Hampton HS in 1947 and went on to graduate from Goucher College in 1951, receiving a Masters of Education from William & Mary College in 1953.

In 1955, Tillie met her husband of 51 years, Colonel Sam Smithers, Jr. (US Army, Ret.), who had recently returned from the Korean Conflict after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Stationed at Ft. Monroe, VA, Sam asked Tillie if she wanted to ‘Join the Army and see the world?” To which Tillie replied, ‘Yes, when?’

The two embarked on a lifetime of traveling and moving from country to country around the world with their two children, Robin and Jim, until 1972 and Sam’s last assignment in Washington, D.C. The family settled in Northern Virginia where Sam and Tillie made their permanent residence. Sam died in 2006 and Tillie remained in Arlington until her passing on July 16th, 2021.

Tillie was an avid gardener and was active in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Arlington. She was also a successful realtor and real estate investor in the Northern VA area. She was active with DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), The Colonial Dames, NVAL (Northern Virginia Alliance League), Galen Society, Neighbors’ Club, and was a long-time member of Washington Golf and Country Club. Upon Sam’s death, Tillie turned his estate into the Smithers Patriot Foundation supporting wounded, ill, and injured military service members and their families affected by the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Until her death, she supported many charitable causes related to Veterans and their families.

Tillie is survived by her daughter and husband, Robin & Alan Jones of Cary, NC and her son and his wife, Jim and Gina Smithers of Fairfax, VA. She is also survived by her sister, Ann Wallace Buxton of Vienna, VA, 5 grandchildren, Aubrey Jones Lee, Joshua Smithers, Samuel Jones, Jon Smithers and Jared Smithers, as well as two great-grandchildren, Samuel Townes Lee and Sylvi Smithers.

A memorial will be held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, VA on Saturday, August 7th at 11:30am followed by a burial at Arlington National Cemetery where she will join her husband Sam at a later date. When scheduled this date will be posted on Tillie's obituary at

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Freedom Alliance (

View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. The Owners and Staff at the Money and King Funeral Home, wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call us anytime as we are always available to you. Bob Gallagher Funeral Director

    • Tillie was a wonderful Aunt and we will certainly miss her, but are grateful for the wonderful family she raised and love that she shared. So many fond memories from so far back.

  2. Tillie and I were on the hospitality committee of the NS Colonial Dames, Alexandria. I loved her humor and frankness. She read my books. She loved the Army and showed it in her activities. Tillie, I’ll miss you. Cynthia Hearne Darling

    • Cynthia she spoke of you so fondly and enjoyed her time working with you before her falls. Thank you, Robin (daughter)

  3. Jim and Robin, I will always carry very fond memories of your mother, as well as your father. I first met your mother and father (and you) when I was a young child and they made a lifelong impression on me. Kindness, compassion, fierce devotion to family and friends, service to others, and love of country were just some of their many positive traits. In my later years I was privileged to stay in contact with your mother, often to facilitate contact with my father, who called Tillie his sister. Whenever I called her to check in, we’d have long and lovely conversations. She never complained, only wanted to know how everyone else was doing and of course we’d end up talking politics :-). Tillie was truly special. I will never forget her and am so grateful for her friendship. With love, Alan

    • Thank you for the kind and beautiful words Alan. She loved you and your family so very much! Love, Robin

  4. Tillie was truly a one-of-a-kind person with a heart bigger than she was. I enjoyed meeting with her and hearing her stories of military life with Sam. She will be truly missed and my condolences to her family.

  5. Robin and Jim, Our mothers were very dear friends for a very long time, and I always considered your mom one of my bonus mothers. It has been a few years since I had seen your mother, probably back in January 2016 at my own mother’s service, but it was always good to know she was still there. Her loss is the end of an era. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    Mary Louise Wagner
    Class of 1950 Daughter of Jack and Louise Wagner

    • Mary, thank you for your kind words. Louise was always a constant in my life as well. I remember her at all the special occasions! She and Mom were such close friends. Thank you again for your condolences and kind words. Love, Robin

  6. I always enjoyed my interactions with Tillie. She was a special lady who cared deeply about others, and she will be missed. On behalf of everyone at Jackson-Feild, I offer our deepest condolences. Tod Balsbaugh V.P. of Advancement, Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle